“They chose us,” say two Red Deer children who have adopted two adult cats to fill the gap left with the death just before Christmas of their mom’s cat, Kitty.
The Turgeon family of Red Deer, including parents Ed and Chandra and their children, seven-year-old Adam and his five-year-old sister, Isla, were among the scores of people who flocked into Red Deer animal shelters during a nation-wide adoption campaign on Saturday to celebrate the Year of the Cat.
Isla said that Candy, the tortie that chose her, had cuddled into her shoulder while she was visiting with the other cats in one of the rooms at the Red Deer & District SPCA. Adam had a similar experience with Guillermo, a big orange cat whose name will be changed to Leo.
For Candy, Guillermo and 19 other cats and kittens who will be nestling in with their new families this week, it could just have likely been called The year of the New Home.
One trio of friends had to flip a coin to decide who get Charley, an unusually coloured tabby kitten they found at Riverside Kennels. Winner of the flip was Natasha Little, who then went with her friend, Krista Way to the SPCA to hunt for another cat.
Saturday’s campaign, originally planned as a joint effort between Alberta Animal Service’s Riverside Kennels, Whisker Cat Rescue and the SPCA, was set up to help make more room in their respective shelters. While Whisker Rescue doesn’t have any space of its own, it has recently added Riverside Kennels to the businesses that help it make connections between homeless cats and cat-less homes.
Whisker Rescue operator Stacy Worobetz said she was delighted to see so many pets make connections with new people.
Unlike the SPCA, which has space and people to look after the cats it brings in until they have found new homes, Animal Services can keep animals for only a short period of time. Animals that cannot be returned to their owners or adopted out are put down, said Erica Coomber, shelter administrator. Because of its space restrictions, Riverside Kennels normally finds homes for only about one per cent of the cats brought in, said Coomber.
Riverside has received 30 new cats since Jan. 1. It’s first placement of the year was made on Thursday and three more cats were adopted on Saturday, she said.
Adoption rules and policies are much the same at Riverside Kennels as those of the Red Deer & District SPCA, although the fee structures are different.
Riverside charges $150 per cat because assigning a value to the animals helps ensure that they will go to homes where they will be well loved and cared for, said Coomber.
Julie McInnis, executive director for the SPCA, reported finding new homes on Saturday for two dogs, one puppy, two kittens and 15 adult cats. That’s four times the number of cats that would be adopted out on an average Saturday, she said.
The SPCA normally charges $125 for cats and $150 for kittens, including veterinary examinations, spay or neutering, vaccinations and behaviour assessments, said McInnis. Those services can now be provided in house, she said.
The premium charged for kittens helps cover the costs of looking after the adult cats, which are more difficult to place, she said.
For Saturday only, the SPCA let kittens go for $120.11 each and dropped the fee for adult cats to $20.11.
Finding new homes for all of those animals frees up a little space for new intakes, which average about 800 cats a year, said McInnis.
Of those cats, 98 per cent will be kept in the shelter until they can be placed in new homes. Roughly two per cent are euthanized because of sickness or serious injuries, she said.